When cutting it is crucial to not only count the calories you consume, but to make sure you are getting quality nutrients from those calories:
What are the 20 best foods for cutting? Explain why.
What are the 5 best supplements for cutting? Explain why.
How does one determine how many calories they should consume when cutting?
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Cutting is part of the whole bodybuilding process. We bulk, we add mass and then we cut down. For a long time people have had their own theories on which foods are best for loosing weight.
In this article I have provided my own expertise on this issue, providing my favorite 20 foods for cutting, as well as a section on the best supplements for weight loss. Please read on.
Best Foods: What are the 20 best foods for cutting?
Following is a list of 20 very good food choices for loosing weight. They can be added to any weight-management program, or anyone looking to cut down.
1. Sesame Seed Oil
All the talk about loosing weight lately seems to center around a substance called Sesamin. Sesamin is a lignan only found in Sesame Seeds. It decreases fat storage and increases fat oxidization, and therefore can be extremely beneficial for those wanting to loose weight.
Sesamin works by activating a receptor in the human body (PPARalpha) which has a major role in oxidizing fats and how they are stored. It does this by increasing the enzymes involved in the oxidation of fatty acids.
The reason Sesame Oil is recommended over eating seeds is that the oil will provide the same amount of sesamin per serve, but is a lot less concentrated in fats than seeds are. I would recommend one tablespoon of oil per day, or if you're prefer eating seeds, then take in 50 grams per serve with calories in mind.
Protein needs to be high at this time to ensure muscle-loss doesn't occur, and salmon is one of the best choices because it is low in saturated fats, while also providing valuable Omega 3's.
It contains the essential fatty acids DHA and EPA, of which the body is unable to manufacture without the assistance of the diet. The reason salmon, and other fish high in Omega-3 are so valuable is that unlike flaxseed Oil, DHA and EPA are readily available without conversion.
Omega 3 DHA and EPA will help fat loss by stabilizing insulin levels which are one of the main causes of storing excess fat, as well as aid in energy production. As a side-benefit, fish is also said to protect against cardiovascular disease, making it an all-round good choice.
3. White Kidney Beans
White kidney beans do not only carry all the health benefits of legumes, but also contain 2500 anti-amylase units per serving. These block carbohydrate digesting enzymes and help reduce carbohydrate absorption. This means less carbohydrates are absorbed, and as a result, less fat storage.
Some may even find they are able to increase their carbohydrate intake when eating kidney beans. This means you are able to eat more food, which is one of the drawbacks of cutting.
On top of being a carb-blocker, white kidney bean is also a highly nutritious food that is high in protein, very low in fat, while containing many vitamins and minerals. Like all legumes, such as butter beans and lentils, the white kidney bean is very slowly absorbed, which means it will keep you full for longer.
4. Green Teas
Green Tea has been long-known as a thermogenic, while aiding in fat-loss. Green tea can be consumed through teabags to get this desired effect. 2-3 cups of green tea per day is ideal for fat loss, preferably consumed at equal intervals.
Green tea also contains the compounds Polyphenols and Catechins, which works as an antioxidant in the body. Antioxidants work by fending off the negative affects of free-radicals, which can be induced by heavy training.
5. Leafy Green Vegetables
These are packed full of nutrition and are an excellent choice to compliment any meal. Green leafy vegetables, as well as most other vegetables, contain significant amounts of fiber which help slow down the rate of absorption of the other foods in your meal.
Eating vegetables is a good habit to get into because it encourages a large portion of your meals to come from vegetable sources, which are bulky and filling with minimal calories. You can also be rest assured that you're taking care of your health and getting your 5 servings.
Additionally, all vegetables contain phytonutrients, substances only found in natural foods. These have an array of health benefits. Good choices of leafy greens are raw salads, spinach, romaine lettuce, bok choy, silverbeet, sprouts and cabbage.
6. Flaxseed Oil
Flaxseed Oil is the most highly concentrated form of Omega 3's in existence. Each serve contains a whopping 8 grams of ALA. ALA is vital for fat loss as it helps in the regulation of glucose which is important for carbohydrate equilibrium. ALA also aids the body in effectively metabolizing fats. Both of these make it a great choice for those cutting.
As well as faxseed oil's fat burning properties, it also an energy booster, boosts brain health and learning and protects the heart.
Grapefruit has long been known as a food that aids in fat loss. Although many studies have been conducted and we are still not sure what ingredients contribute to its weight loss, I've read about enough people who have had success with eating the fruit to recommend it.
I do know grapefruit is a low GI food, one of the slowest absorbing fruits, as well as being high in vitamin C and flavonoids for energy production and immunity.
However, it is also highly acidic, so I wouldn't recommend too much. When weight loss is your goal, half a grapefruit a day as part of an overall fat-burning diet-plan should work.
This is a food that isn't highly talked about when it comes to fat loss, but when I personally try to cut weight, I always include tomatoes as a staple food. I find it helps regulate my appetite, as well increasing mood.
I was doing some investigating and tomatoes contain two naturally occurring brain chemicals called serotonin and endorphins. Both, especially serotonin, play a vital role in suppressing appetite by sending signals to the brain that make you feel satisfied.
Tomatoes are very low in calories. They also contain a compound called lypocene that gives tomatoes its rich red color, and is said to protect against cancer.
9. Whole-Grain Bread
Foods for bulking and cutting should be different. When bulking you can afford to eat foods more highly concentrated in carbs such as your rices and wholemeal breads, but when cutting its important to find foods that fill you up with less carbs. I think wholegrain breads are one of the best options here.
They contain just half the amount of carbs per serve compared to rice, and at the same time are higher in protein, full of nutrients, and encourage you to eat less. All I need is 3 slices with each meal, equivalent to 30 g. Carbs, whereas I need 1 1/2 cups of rice to give me the same fullness (around 70 grams carbs).
Look for whole grain bread with moderate sodium, a variety of grains and one that is high in protein. Soy and linseed bread is an excellent choices as its high in Omega 3, proteins and very slowly absorbed.
10. Brewer's Yeast
Brewer's yeast is in my opinion one of nature's best super-foods. Brewer's yeasts contains an abundance of nutrients needed for fat loss, and is full of protein. Each serving can contain up to 10 grams of protein, while providing all the essential aminos in a very balanced way.
Some of these nutrients include a high level of the mineral chromium. Chromium helps regulate insulin levels and will keep you away from eating excess carbohydrates. It is also nature's highest source B-vitamins, which have a major in how the body uses the carbohydrates you ingest, and can therefore prevent fat-storage.
Kelp has been classified as one of nature's superfoods. It is a plant that is found in the sea, and can be either eaten, or taking as a supplement. I will discuss supplements for fat loss in the next section.
Why kelp? It is extremely high in many minerals including selenium and iodine. Iodine is the one most worthy of noting for its role in thyroid metabolism. If you want to target fat-loss effectively, you have to target it from all angles, and considering how effectively your thyroid is functioning is a vital step to getting there.
12. Turkey Breast
One of the best sources of protein for cutting due to its protein/fat ratio. While cutting you should look at getting as much protein from sources that are low in calories and turkey breast achieves this balance perfectly.
There is no one particular ingredient that sticks out in turkey for fat loss, but it is a complete food that is high in amino acids such L-carnitine, it contains plenty of protein and little fat.
13. Cottage Cheese
Cottage has long been known as a staple in the bodybuilder's diet. Although it's known as a "bulking" food for several reasons, I have also found it a good food for loosing weight too.
Cottage cheese has one of the highest quantity of protein of all dairy products; but more importantly it is full of calcium which recent research suggests contains valuable weight-loss properties. Always select the low-fat varieties.
14. Lean Beef
What would a diet be without some meat? Beef is high in iron, b-vitamins and creatine, which can work together to increase ATP, and give you longer, harder workouts.
Always choose lean varieties, usually the pinker the color, the less fat it has.
15. Red lentils
Of all legumes, red lentils have the highest amount of Protein per serving, while being very low in calories and saturated fat. They are low GI, and high in fiber and phytonutrients.
I like them because you can eat a lot without blowing your budget, or your waist.
Very similar in nutrition to brewers yeast, mushrooms are very high in B-vitamins and chromium. You can add mushrooms to salads or eaten raw. Eating vegetables raw are always better to maximize nutrition.
17. Chicken Breast
Chicken breast is another choice of protein for those looking to cut down. Like turkey breast, it has a very high protein ratio and is low in fat. Just make sure you select skinless varieties, or remove the fat.
Apples are great. They have been rated very highly on the Satiety index. The satiety index is a measurement of how filling common foods are.
There have been many studies on different foods, and apples rate as one of the most satisfying foods around. This means they fill you up quicker and keep you full for longer.
Apples are also high in fiber, and contain a lot of other nutrients, so they are a good overall choice in a healthy diet.
19. Soy Lecithin
Soy lecithin is a fat extract from the soy bean. Lecithin is a vital component of both the brain and liver, but is now also being thrown around as a fat-aid.
I'm not sure what it is about lecithin that makes it work so well, but I can conclude through eating the product daily, that it does work. You can add it to your cereal, or blend it into your shakes to give it a nice, nutty taste.
Pears are high in fiber, and very nutritious, but it's the fact that they contain naturally-occurring endorphins which make it stand out. These are a chemical that provide euphoric feelings, and helps suppress appetite by making you feel more in control.
Overall, all of these foods above are very good choices for cutting. They should form the staple of your cutting diets, but always remember that the key to any successful diet is variety.
Ensure you are eating plenty of fruit, vegetables, legumes and wholegrain, and a lean body and healthy mind will be yours.
Best Supplements: What are the 5 best supplements for cutting?
There are many ways you target fat loss through supplementation. Which way you decide to go should be largely determined by personal needs.
Those who find it hard to say "no" to food should go for an appetite suppressant; those with sluggish thyroids may want to try a thyroid regulator whereas most others should stick to a good-quality thermogenic, or a complete formula.
Following are my own personal favorites:
1. Universal SuperCuts
Universal SuperCuts is a good stimulant-free product that I have gotten great results from. It targets fat-loss from all angles. It considers thermo-genesis (fat-burning), thyroid function and appetite, so you have all grounds covered. Quantity per serving is important, and you are getting a lot for a good price here.
Super-Cuts is based on the amino acid L-carnitine and soy lecithin, and also contains a fatty-acid complex and several thermogenic herbs such as green tea. Overall, it's a great substitute for those who side-step Animal pak, and would work even better with a carb and fat blocking supplement such as Xyience.
2. Xyience Carb/Fat Blocker
Another way to target fat loss is by blocking the absorption of fats and carbs. A carb and fat-blocker is great for cutting because it allows you to get away with eating a little more carbs and fat, or just block the carbs and fats you are already eating.
Xyience works by reducing the amount of amylase present, an enzyme that digests carbohydrates in the body. To block fat, Xyience contains chitosan, which binds with dietary fat to reduce its effect.
A lot of people use this product both before and after big meals, the way BSN Cheaters is prescribed, but I like to use it at the same time each day and regularly.
L-carnitine is another great choice when loosing weight. It works by aiding in the transfer of long-chain fatty acids into energy, rather than storing them as fat.
L-carnitine also promotes muscle gain at the same time which is what a lot of us are looking for. Additionally, it reduces feelings of hunger. Combined, it can have a powerful effect on fat-loss.
NOW L-carnitine is a good choice. L-carnitine is a great supplement, and will be a good part of any complete stack.
4. Now Thyroid Energy
The thyroid is often overlooked when discussing fat loss, but it can't be forgotten that the thyroid has a major role in how the body decides to store fat. A sluggish one may be one of the things holding you back from achieving that shredded conditioning you are looking for.
I would take Now Thyroid Energy especially for those who have had weight loss problems in the past, or for anyone wanting to enhance the function of their thyroid for weight loss.
5. Whey Protein Powder
When cutting, you can't ignore the importance of protein. Protein will help keep you anabolic when you need it the most.
Whey protein powder is convenient so you have no excuses. It is also, in my opinion, a healthier option to make up your protein balance with a shake rather than over-consuming animal products.
Overall, I would determine your goal. For those with long-term fat loss problems, I would recommend thyroid and appetite suppressant as well as a thermogenic. On the other hand, for those in a cutting phase, I think a good dose of a thermogenic, or a complete formula are your best bets.
Calories: How does one determine how many calories they should consume when cutting?
This should be determined by your sex, activity level and your weight. Males require more calories as they are bigger. For the same reason, heavier people require more calories. You should take the amount of physical activity into account as well when deciding how many calories to cut on.
Generally, an average sized male should consume approximately 1700-2500 calories per day, the lower portion for the lighter individuals, whereas the heavier you are, the higher.
Personally I'm able to maintain 12% body fat on 3, 000 calories per day, so if you have anything else in check like I do, you may be able to increase the amount above slightly, but only if you are an experienced trainer.
What's more important than just the calories is where they are coming from. Your goal should be to cut fat while also maintaining as much as mass as you can, therefore both fats and proteins are important due to their anabolic properties.
Carbohydrates are the least anabolic of the three substances, so I would decrease carb intake, as well as cutting back on fats. Ensure you are still getting good quality carbs and fats, such as seeds, wholegrain breads, vegetables, legumes and even fruit, but just monitoring servings.
Stick to your usual sources of protein and switch up your carbs a bit so they contain more slow-absorbing carbs and more vegetables, while cutting down on fats such as oil and take-away junk.
Construct your diet around foods I've listed in this article, as well eating plenty of other healthy foods, and you should achieve your weight loss goals within no time.
Thanks for reading.
- L-carnitine information - Bodybuilding.com
2nd Place: bitterplacebo
What Are The Best Foods For Cutting?
In the world of bodybuilding, cutting generally refers to the process of losing fat while retaining as much muscle as possible.
It generally entails a combination of cardiovascular activities with a lower carbohydrate and calorie diet. While cutting may sound easy, we will see the importance of understanding its dietary aspects to achieve the quickest and best results.
Best Foods: What are the 20 best foods for cutting?
With dieting to lose as much fat and as little muscle as possible, a controlled diet is essential. Meal frequency, size, and contents should all be planned ahead of time to make sure that this control is maintained throughout the diet.
With time, the body will adapt to this constant change in consumption habits by burning fat stores.
The calories we eat come from three basic types of macronutrients: proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. While the idea is to reduce overall caloric consumption, the ratios and types of calories and foods can also play a role in helping burn excess fat.
Ultimately, digested proteins aid the body in the task of rebuilding muscle tissues by providing it with amino acids.
There are foods considered complete proteins which contain all the amino acids the body needs, and there are incomplete ones which lack some amino acids that the body cannot produce by itself. Proteins that come from animal sources tend to be complete.2
The goal in this department with regard to cutting is to simply eat enough complete proteins to meet the body's requirement for maintaining muscle mass. This tends to be a minimum of one gram per pound of body weight, and will tend to be around 40% or more of the calories in a cutting diet.
The glucose from carbohydrates we digest are the body's main source of energy. For cutting, it's important to eat just enough of this nutrient to allow for your body to actually start turning to fat stores for energy.
However, when this intake is too low, the body can start breaking down and using muscle tissue for energy, which is not desired. A good percentage of total calories to think about for losing fat might be around 40% or less because, as we will see, carbohydrates are more readily stored as fat than other macronutrients.
With carbohydrate intake quantity now considered, we also need to look at how different types of food effect the levels of glucose in our blood. High Glycemic Index (GI) foods tend to raise blood glucose and insulin very rapidly, while low GI foods produce a smaller fluctuation over a longer time.
Insulin is a hormone that allows glucose into cells which they use to create ATP energy. The problem with eating too many high GI foods is that they produce a spike in blood glucose and insulin at times when the body may not need energy.
If this is the case, the glucose will get stored as fat with the intention of using it for energy at a later time of need. With this in mind, most carbohydrates chosen for cutting should have a low GI.
There are also fibers, which are carbohydrates that our body cannot digest.3 These are important in helping move waste out of the body, and should definitely be included in the diet. Fruits, vegetables, and whole grain products are high in fiber and can help satiate hunger without adding many calories.
While fats have a higher caloric density than either protein or carbohydrates, they are necessary for some human bodily functions. Some vitamins are fat-soluble, meaning that they are only digested, absorbed, and transported in conjunction with fats.
Fats are also our main source of essential fatty acids, which are a requirement for our metabolism that our body cannot make on its own.
Aiming for around 20% or more fat calories on a cutting diet is a good idea. Try to stay away from excessive saturated and trans fats.
Although not technically a food, it should be mentioned that the body needs between one and seven liters of pure water per day to function properly.
The List (moderate relation: better foods listed first)
The following foods were chosen to provide a balanced and relatively simple diet for someone attempting to cut their fat levels. Most of the foods require little preparation or are bought in a form ready to eat, saving the time and the stress involved.
1. Hemp Protein
- Not as widely used as many protein powders, but has many benefits.
- Provides essential fatty acids in a favorable ratio.
- Provides well-balanced array of essential amino acids, and relatively high levels of branched-chain amino acids that are important in the metabolism of exercising muscle.
- Has a high fiber and antioxidant content.
- Easy to mix with shakes or other things, just add some water.
- Tastes good, too.
- Plain and simple source of low GI carbohydrates and fiber.
- Easy to make in the microwave.
3A. Eggs (yolk)
- Egg yolks have good fat and proteins.
- Contains cholesterol: it's a precursor for the synthesis of steroid hormones, and sex hormones. So the body does have uses for it, just don't go overboard, one yolk a day is probably sufficient.
3B. Eggs (whites)
- The whites of eggs have protein of the highest quality compared to most foods.
- Can be bought in cartons for simplicity, and even consumed without cooking.
4. Low Fat Milk
- Contains both whey and casein proteins.
- Whey may increase protein synthesis.
- Casein has a beneficial slow digestion and sustained release of amino acids.
5. Plain Yogurt
- Excellent source of protein like milk.
- Contains live active cultures that create beneficial enzymes.
- A good source of fat and casein protein.
- Healthy fats, some protein, and even fiber.
- Easy to take places when traveling and food is not always readily available.
8. Sweet Potatoes
- A good moderate GI carbohydrate source.
- Can be bought in cans, ready-to-eat, for simplicity.
9. Any Rice
- Another simple, yet good source of moderate GI carbohydrates.
- An easily digestible, high GI carbohydrate to help re-fuel glucose stores after exercise only.
- Mostly for fiber and to help keep both hunger and calories down.
- Like lettuce with some additional nutrient bonuses.
- Again, fiber and low calories.
- Broccoli contains high levels of indoles, food compounds that help reduce bad estrogen.6 Estrogen is a hormone that can lead to fat accumulation and interfere with muscle growth.
- Possible to eat straight from the can to get a good dose of pure protein.
- Similar to chicken, but usually with even less or no fat.
- Contain a great deal of protein, usually with little fat, meaning fewer calories.
17. Lean Beef
- Meats have cholesterol, and red meats have additional zinc, both of which may help support testosterone, a hormone important in preventing fat storage among other things.
- A balanced combination of carbohydrates, protein, and fiber.
- A fruit with low GI carbohydrates, and some fiber.
- Easy to take on the road.
- There's much controversy over soy. There are reports and research on both its health benefits and its possible harmful effects. You may want to research more on your own before incorporating it into any diet.
- Soy acts as a competitive inhibitor of estrogen, reducing its effect in our body. This would be of interest to those trying to cut.
- What is not disputed is soy's considerable protein content.
The foods were chosen based mostly on simplicity, avoiding processed foods, and the contents of the three major macronutrients. Macronutrients are what provide energy, the rest of the micronutrients do not, but have health benefits.
These micronutrients can be taken care of with supplements, as we'll see in the next section. So, the main things to be concerned about when cutting are the ratio and amount of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins that are eaten.
Cutting Diet Summary: Think simple, think thin.
Best Supplements: What are the 5 best supplements for cutting?
A multivitamin will plug any nutritional gaps, and give all the necessary vitamins, minerals and other stuff not obtained through the diet.
This is important as a diet focused on losing fat may not contain a great deal of variety in food choices, and can thus be prone to deficiencies in certain micronutrients.
2. Fat Burner
These are worth looking into. Some utilize ways to suppress appetite in order to help you deal with your lower caloric intake. Others can help with breaking down and metabolizing fat.
There are also some with caffeine content to aid the cutting process. Caffeine can help keep you going even when low on energy from the diet, and even increase basal metabolic rate.
Has no caloric value, so no problem there. Creatine will facilitate additional energy uptake in muscle tissue.1 This will help a person on a cutting diet keep an intense workout regimen.
Creatine can increase muscle cells' intake of water, allowing for minimal protein breakdown and excellent growth in size and strength. There may be some water retention, but the rest of the benefits seem to outweigh this in most cases.
4. Natural Hormone Regulation
Such as Universal Animal Stak 2 or tribulus terrestris supplements can help take care of the hormonal aspects of keeping the fat off.
They can increase testosterone while inhibiting estrogen and cortisol. We know both testosterone and estrogen play a role in the storage of body fat, so it may be in our best interest to try to naturally manipulate these hormones.
5. Nitric Oxide (NO)
Nitric Oxide Increases blood flow, allowing for muscle pumps and increased nutrient delivery to muscles. It also has the ability to reduce inflammation, which may help one deal with the pain of intense exercise.
Calories: How does one determine how many calories they should consume when cutting?
For those who had a controlled diet before cutting, the number of calories consumed is simply going to be around 300 to 500 calories per day fewer than what it was before.
This would be for a goal of losing 1 or 2 pounds per week as the body is forced to adapt to having less calories.
For those who did not have a controlled diet before cutting, a basal metabolic rate or resting metabolic rate needs to be calculated. This will tell how many calories are needed simply to sustain life.
These do not include the calories need to fuel activities, so eating around this amount or a little less may be enough to facilitate weight loss. The main goal is to create a calorie deficit, where caloric expenditure is 500 less than required for maintenance.
This deficit will allow for a pound of fat reduction in a week's time. A quick way to estimate caloric needs for fat loss is to calculate about 12-13 calories per pound of body weight.8
In either case, it might also be a good idea to lower the calorie deficit gradually over a period of time to get used to eating less. It's important not to have too big of a caloric deficit.
Under those conditions, the basal metabolic rate may actually decrease, muscle mass will be harder to sustain, and the goal of burning fat will be harder to reach.
Having a small calorie deficit is the only requirement for fat loss. Activity levels, food consumption, and resting metabolism all need to be accounted for in achieving this goal.
- M & F contributor Chris Aceto, author of Championship Bodybuilding.
- Freberg, Laura A. Biological Psychology. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2006.
3rd Place: bigcalves
What Are The Best Foods For Cutting?
The winter months have finally passed. After a few weeks, or actually months now that you look at your calendar of bulking, you've gained a substantial amount of mass.
Biceps are getting bigger, and the t-shirts are getting tighter. Good! The trouble is that through all that bulking up, your body has gained some fat. This is normal. It's a part of the process of gaining new muscle mass.
Just look at the pro's in the off season. Nothing different. Now you shouldn't use that as an excuse on staying that way. Don't get wild ideas of bulking up again after you bulk up period. The results will be bad. Trust me.
As for now, your bodies metabolism is pretty average. As with bulking up, you probably cheated on some days, so your body is used to fatty foods and insane amounts of macronutrients. Now it's time to cut down, see the new muscle that you've build and show that off during the summer!
The main point of cutting is to eliminate the extra fat to show off the hard earned muscle. Our goal is to not just loose weight, but keep muscle and loose fat.
Sure you will loose some muscle mass, but it will be at a minimal. How will we do that? Cardio, appropriate training, rest and most importantly nutrition. You can run for 2 hours a day, if your diet is not in check you will not the shredded look that you are looking for.
In order to reveal that six pack, show more definition and increase vascularity, you must lower your body fat. Eating the right foods is key in doing so. By eating the right clean food, and taking the right supplements that will give you that fat burning boost, you will defiantly succeed.
Best Foods: What are the 20 best foods for cutting? Explain why.
1. Tuna Fish
When it comes down to eating good clean food that your body will benefit from, tuna fish is the all time favorite. Affordable, high quality protein at its best form. No added sweetener, no added fat.
Although tuna fish cans contain some added sodium, nothing can beat 35 grams of high quality protein for .45 cents a can. I strongly recommend stocking up and having at least one meal with tuna when cutting.
2. Chicken Breast
Chicken, especially chicken breast is the ultimate bodybuilders meal. Tuna fish gets old fast. You can cook it and do some things, but the distinct, fishy flavor will be there.
Good news with check breast is that you can take off the skin, bake it, microwave it or fry it with olive oil and add spices. The combinations are endless. It tastes great, and provides quality protein that you need while cutting down to preserve lean tissue.
3. Cottage Cheese
Are you a diary lover? Cottage cheese is the perfect 'dessert' for some people. It packs 30 grams of protein, low in carbohydrates mostly consisting of lactose, and if you get the fat-free version no fat.
Cottage cheese is great for a meal before bed, or in the early afternoon. It dissolves slowly and your muscles will be feeding on it as it dissolves in your stomach. I highly recommend a 30 gram of protein serving before bed to preserve lean tissue and keep catabolism away during sleep.
4. Beef (Steak)
Since we are cutting, we won't need as much red meat. A nice lean steak 2-3 times a week would be beneficial though. Red meat contains growth hormones and tons of B-Vitamins, so cutting beef all out will be a mistake.
Cut most of the white fat out, as that is saturated fat, and cook it on a pan with a dash of olive oil. Add veggies and you have a low fat, high protein meal for dinner. Perfect for bulking, still good for cutting!
5. Egg Whites
Eggs are very good for you. Since we are cutting, you won't be able to eat the yokes as 8 eggs can add up to 30 grams of fat! A lot of saturated fat too.
It's not all bad as some of the fatty acids in it are very beneficial. For this purpose I recommend keeping 1 or 2 of the yokes and throwing out the rest or feeding them to your cat.
The egg whites on the other hand are perfect for cutting. Packed with protein, no carbs, no fat. What more can you ask for? They don't have a weird taste either. Put your favorite spice on those bad boys and their good to go!
6. Fat Free Milk
If your like me, always on the go you'll need some fat free milk. Especially for those breakfasts that you woke up 20 minutes later. Add some whey protein to 4-6 cups of milk and you got a nice, fast breakfast.
Sure you'll be kind of full for a while, but soon you'll get to it. If you're more normal, 1 or 2 glasses provides 20 grams of protein, no fat and around 24 grams of carbs. Carbs are sugar, but lactose, which is a slow digesting sugar, is "cut friendly."
We can't leave out the protein sources without mentioning salmon. No carbs, high quality protein and essential fatty acids. What more could you ask for? Put some spices on it, add a piece of lemon, some veggies and that's anther healthy dinner that will help you loose your fat.
Salmon is a very lean, dense packed meat. So you will be getting a good 30-50 grams of protein depending on your piece, along with around 10 grams of high quality fats.
People buy salmon oil pills—that should tell you something about your salmon. It's very good and I highly recommend it. High source of the B- Vitamins.
8. Olive Oil
We already touched the protein side of your diet. Now It's time for the fats. Essential Fatty Acids (EFA's) are needed for your body to function. Believe it or not, they make loosing fat smoother. Think of it as the oil in your car that helps the engine grind and do its thing.
Fats provide the same thing for our bodies. Olive oil contains low amounts of saturated fats, and it's high with monos and polys. Perfect for cutting and getting all the Omega 3 fatty acids.
9. Natural Peanut Butter
You can find this in most health stores. Even local markets should have it. Perfect for an afternoon snack, or for that late night meal that needs fat. It's low in saturated fats, high in good fats. It also provides about 10 grams of protein per serving, so it's a very beneficial food to have when cutting.
We've touched peanut butter. Peanuts, almonds, sunflower seeds, pecans, walnuts are all good sources of Omega 3 fatty acids. It will help a great deal with cutting, and they are fun to eat to. My great-grandpa once told me that ever since the age of 8, he started eating 1 walnut a day.
Come to think of it, that's not a lot, but it does provide you with Omega's, especially when you take it religiously. He died at the age of 98. I personally believe that nuts are the key to living a long and healthy life. Good fats, protein and good taste, perfect for cutting!
Stepping aside from fats for a minute, garlic doesn't have a great nutritional content. It has been proven to lower bad cholesterol and lower blood pressure. My great-grandpa, along with the walnut a day, also consumed a great deals of onions and garlic.
I personally remember him on the farm, just taking out a sweet onion and eating it like it was an apple or something. Onions and garlic have powerful antioxidants that power up the immune system and keep you healthy.
Since you will be cutting, and your calories will be cut down your body will be in a state where it's weaker, it's definitely smart to protect yourself with 'natures vitamins.'
12. Whole Wheat Oatmeal
One of Ronnie Coleman's favorite food along with good 'ole chicken. Oats will give you slow released energy. It doesn't have a high GI level, so no insulin spike here.
Exactly what we want in a cutting cycle. Your body will be fed gradually and up until the next meal. Contains high amounts of fiber that will help your digestive system.
13. Brown Rice
The trick to cutting fat is consistency. The trick to consistency is a right diet. And the trick to a right diet is variety. As humans we tend to start hating the food if we eat it for too long.
Oats are great. But you can't eat them for your 6-8 meals. Brown rice has the same beneficial facts as oats. Low GI level, a lot of fiber, gradual release of macronutrients. Except it has a different taste. I strongly suggest that you keep those two as stable for carbs, but varying them is a great way to stay on your diet.
14. 100% Whole Wheat Bread
Same thing as the oats and brown rice. Variety is the key to staying consistent and getting the six pack of your dreams and seeing the hard earned muscle from the previous bulk. Bread is easier to carry.
You can put your chicken breast in between 3 pieces of 100% whole wheat bread, some veggies and you have a nice meal that's perfect for cutting.
Bananas are high in calories. High amounts of quality carbs that replenishes your muscles. When you need a fruit with a kick, bananas are perfect.
High amounts of fiber and Potassium. Your body needs potassium and a natural way of getting some is through eating 1-2 bananas while cutting.
High in fiber, high in vitamins, especially C and low in calories. What's not to love? Broccoli is natures gift to bodybuilders. Perfect food for cutting.
When cravings are high, appetite is high and your allowance for this meal is small. Load up on 1-2 cups and you will fill up quick without adding extra unwanted calories.
Great source of Vitamin C, low in calories and fulfilling. If you have a sweet tooth a grape fruit will fill you up, give you the much needed vitamins and also trick your brain that it just had a cheat meal. Great for cutting!
Beans are high in good quality carbs, have good fats, and have a decent amount of protein in them. If you're on the go, or need affordable food, a can of beans can make for a meal, and at .50-.90 cents a can it's a pure steal.
You've seen Popeye? You want big forearms right? Ha ha, I see where this is going. On a serious note, spinach has a high amount of vitamins and minerals that we as bodybuilders need, especially when cutting.
20. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is very beneficial for you. Even though it is high in saturated fat, it doesn't get stored as fat. It has a special fatty acids that are used by the body immediately for energy. Perfect for taking before workouts when carb supplies are low during your cutting cycle.
Best Supplements: What are the 5 best supplements for cutting? Explain why.
As bodybuilders we need more vitamins than the average person. When cutting we are depleting our bodies of vitamins and minerals. I strongly suggest getting a multivitamin that will keep you healthy. It's a must, especially when cutting.
2. Whey Protein
Sometimes you can't eat meat all the time. After workouts you need quick digestion. Whey protein is affordable and convenient. I strongly recommend that you pick this up before cutting.
3. Fat Burner
When you start cutting you will feel tired and lack of energy will follow. I strongly recommend picking up a fat burner that will help you stay on track and give you a little boost.
4. Fish Oil
Fish Oil contains Essential Fatty Acids. When cutting, you will want a boost that will make fat burning easier. Fish Oil is the way to do it. Affordable and effective.
Creatine will help with ATP energy. While cutting you will definitely appreciate some extra help on those hard last reps. Also the pump will be better and your workout will be more intense. Make sure to add creatine to your list!
Calories: How does one determine how many calories they should consume when cutting?
You don't want to cut calories down drastically. That way your body will pull the "alarm" switch and you won't be able to burn fat. The trick is to lower your calories every 2 weeks or so.
It takes about that long for the body to adjust to the lowered amount before it stops loosing fat. So start out nice and slow and keep lowering. Keep dieting and keep doing cardio and lifting.
It will take about 8-12 weeks depending on your body fat level from the start and the desired level at the end. Here is an example of someone that finished bulking at 3500 calories. Keep the ratio of 50/30/20, protein, carbs and fats.
- Week 1: 3500 calories
- Week 2: 3000 calories
- Week 3: 2700 calories
- Week 4: 2400 calories
- Week 5: 2100 calories
- Week 6: 1800 calories
- Week 7: 1500 calories
- Week 8: 1500 calories
- Week 9: 1800 calories
- Week 10: 2000 calories (finish of cut)
I hope this article has been an eye opener for you and that I have helped you with your weight loss goals.
Best Of Luck!
3rd Place: nsitka
It's that time of year again. You've spent all winter putting in lots of hard work to add pound after pound after pound of solid muscle. Your legs look like tree trunks, your arms are tearing the sleeves on your shirt and your abs are... wait, where are your abs? Why doesn't your chest look as defined as it did before? Did Santa bring you love handles for Christmas?
Yes, you've also put on a few pounds of fat, which is pretty much unavoidable during a bulking phase. Now you've got to get rid of that unsightly tissue in time for beach season. It's time to jump on that elliptical machine, up your reps in the weight room and begin THE CUTTING DIET!
Are you pumped? No? Well, I can't blame you. Nobody likes being caught in the fearful grip of the inevitable muscle loss. Not to mention the oh-so booooring cardio sessions, and, of course, a drastic reduction in caloric intake. Well, rest your fears; the muscle loss is minimal and your fat loss... uh, maximal, provided your cardio and diet are done correctly.
Question: Cardio is so boring. Can't I just do weights?
NO! You need to do both during a cutting cycle. If you overdo it in the weight room, you'll antagonize your physique by over-training your muscles.
I actually enjoy cardio; I have a portable DVD player that I put on the front panel of the elliptical machine and watch DVDs. (Of course, at 30-40 minutes per session, it now takes a week to watch a movie, so don't plan on this method for the new release rentals, or you'll go bankrupt from late fees.)
The benefits of cardio are maximized if you do it on an empty stomach, as your body's glycogen (carbohydrate) stores have been depleted, and the needs to turn to fat for energy. It is argued that cardio should be done twice a day, with shorter sessions, instead of one long one.
Question: Does this mean I shouldn't eat carbs?
Absolutely not! Low/no carb dieting works on the principle of ketosis, where the body, having used up all carbohydrates (the body's main source of energy) in your system, turns to other sources to burn for energy, namely fat. However, the body also burns protein (i.e. muscle) in the process, causing muscle-breakdown and the dreaded "skinny fat" look.
In addition, this type of dieting is very unhealthy, causing such problems as nausea, headaches, irritability, fatigue, constipation and complications with the kidneys... and the weight loss is temporary. Carbs are your friend; just make sure you get the right kind.
Slow-burning complex carbohydrates, which are low on the glycemic index (GI), will create less of a rise in insulin levels, which causes excess calories to be stored as body fat. However, simple carbs (sugars) are very high on the GI; they do raise insulin levels, which stops the fat burning process.
Question: What foods are best for cutting?
Well, there are many foods which offer different benefits to a cutting cycle. To rank them in one list, protein sources vs. carb sources vs. fat sources is like comparing apples and... wait, it's even worse than that. I've broken it down into protein, carbs and fats, as well as including a snack section.
Tuna: A staple of any bodybuilding diet, tuna is high in protein and also contains DHA and EPA omega-3 fatty acids (the "good" fat"), which not only lower triglyceride (the chemical form of fat) levels, but also promote heart health.
Salmon: High in protein, salmon is also THE source of omega- 3s, higher than tuna, and is rich in vitamins.
Ground turkey: Looking for a substitute for ground beef? A very good source of lean protein, ground turkey is also rich in vitamin B6, which is essential in the processing of carbohydrates and the breakdown of glycogen.
Chicken breast: Lean, mean protein. Almost no fat, no carbs and tastes great. Another bodybuilding staple, whether bulking or cutting.
Egg whites: As chicken is to dinner, as tuna is to lunch, egg whites are to breakfast. Egg whites are a slower protein source, releasing protein into your body for 3 hours after ingestion. It also has the highest protein efficiency rating (PER) of all protein sources at 3.9 (as opposed to whey's 3.2.).
Cottage cheese: Rich in slow-release casein protein, contains few carbs and no fat (provided you get the non-fat stuff).
Skim milk: Another great source of casein protein. Mix it into your whey shakes to give your body a combination of fast and slow-release proteins. (Also makes shakes taste better).
Carbs: So Simple, It's Complex
Oats: Another staple of bodybuilding, oats are rich in dietary fiber, contain a healthy amount of low-G.I. carbs and contain beta-glucan, which is shown to stabilize blood sugar. An easy way to get oats into your diet is to blend it into a protein shake or MRP.
Brown rice: Wow. The nutritional benefits of brown rice would make an article in and of itself. Aside from being an excellent source of low-G.I. carbs, brown rice is very rich in manganese, which helps your body synthesize fatty acids, maintains normal insulin levels and optimizes thyroid function, which increases fat loss.
Whole grain bread: Whole grains are rich in fiber and vitamins. When they are refined, most of these are lost. They are lower on the G.I., which will leave you feeling full, longer than white bread, bagels and baguettes.
Broccoli/Cucumber/Green pepper: Loaded with fiber and vitamins, low on the calories. Add to any meal, or have them raw with some low fat dip (e.g. hummus, salsa).
Beans (black, kidney): "The musical fruit" is a very good source of low-GI carbs and are packed with anti-oxidants, which prevent cellular damage caused by free-radical oxygen particles. White kidney bean extract is the chief ingredient in many carb-blocking supplements, as it reduces the rate at which starch is converted into sugar.
The Fats Of Life
Avocado: A good source of monounsaturated (good) fats. Lowers levels of LDL (low-density lipoprotein, or "bad fat") and triglycerides.
Olive oil: Olive oil helps control blood sugar levels. Additionally, it is the best source of oleic acid, an omega-9 fatty acid, which can lower blood levels of cholesterol. Olive oil makes a great substitute for cooking oil or butter.
Almonds: The combination of vitamin E and flavonoids found in almond skins are a potent anti-oxidant. They also contain a healthy amount of protein and carbs and are a good source of fiber.
Walnuts: Walnuts are packed with omega-3 fatty acids and are also an excellent source of manganese.
Okay, these foods may not technically be as strong a contributor to a cutting diet than other sources listed above, or others omitted, but at some point during your cycle, you'll be tempted to have a snack. Well, when you're craving something sweet, instead of reaching for the chunky chews, have a piece of fruit.
Apples: Low on the G.I., apples are also loaded with anti-oxidants and are a good source of dietary fiber and vitamins C and K.
Prunes: One of the lowest G.I. fruits, prunes are a good source of dietary fiber, which promotes regularity.
Bananas: Pre-packaged, a great source of energy, and loaded with potassium, which is essential for maintaining a healthy blood pressure and heart function.
Blueberries: Noble destroyer of the free radicals! Blueberries have the highest level of antioxidants of any fruits or vegetables. They're also a good source of fiber and vitamin c.
It should also be noted that I have not ranked grapefruit in my above list, although many will argue that it should be. The reason being that the active bioflavonoid narangin, which assists in lipid metabolism, really only has a noticeable effect when combined with caffeine, as it extends the rate at which caffeine is broken down, thereby prolonging its thermogenic effect. Anybody who is interested in taking stimulants as part of their cutting cycle should check with their doctor first.
Question: What supplements are best for cutting?
You still have your whey protein, creatine, nitric oxide, and multi from your bulking phase. Well, don't put them on the shelf just yet; you'll still need them on lifting days. But there are other supplements that are good to take for cutting. Some people will take supplements with thermogenics, however, others are sensitive to stimulants, and, as such, may not want to use them. So, I've offered this list of safer alternatives.
CLA: Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) decreases the amount of fat stored after eating, decreases the number of fat cells, increases the rate of fat metabolism and the rate of fat breakdown in fat cells.
Sesamin: Increases fat oxidation and decreases lipogenesis (fat storage).
Casein: Slow-release protein. Perfect before bed to prevent muscle loss, and on cardio days when the fast-acting benefits of whey aren't as important. Mix with peanut butter, and you've got a great combo of protein and healthy fat.
Flax oil: The best source of alpha-linolenic acid, which increases insulin sensitivity. Reduces body fat and accelerates recovery time.
Carb Blockers/Fat Blockers: Every now and then something comes up where we're going to have to cheat on our diet, be it a social event or our own personal cravings. There are supplements which will block some of the carbs and some of the fats.
I might also suggest a fiber supplement for people on a carb-cycling program.
Question: How does one determine how many calories they should consume when cutting?
The first step is to determine your resting metabolic rate (RMR).
Then add the amount of calories burned through activity.
You now have your maintenance level. To lose weight, you must create a caloric deficit. Not too much, mind you, or else your body will go into starvation mode and slow your metabolism down. A good amount is 500 calories per day. Spread out over the course of a week, it equals 3,500 calories, or roughly one pound.
So if your RMR is 2,000 calories, and you expend an additional 500 calories in exercise, your maintenance would be 2,500 calories. Therefore, you should consume 2,000 calories per day. However, you should not jump into this directly after a bulking cycle, as the sudden drop in calories would shock your system and slow down your metabolism.
In a bulking cycle you would aim for a 500-calorie surplus over your maintenance level, which, following the formula above, would be 3,000 calories per day; you would be reducing your caloric intake by 1/3rd. The best thing to do is to ease into it over a 4-week period: 2,750 calories per day for the 1st week, 2,500 the 2nd week, 2,250 the 3rd week, then down to 2,000 in the 4th.
Good luck to everyone on their cutting cycle.
3rd Place: b0dybu1ld3r
Cutting is a necessity among virtually all bodybuilders today. During bulking bodybuilders usually aim to gain as little fat as possible, but too often much more fat is added than they would prefer. Therefore, most bodybuilders will cut down on the calories and/or increase cardio during "cutting phases." This is done to decrease body-fat as much as possible, while hopefully maintaining muscle mass to the fullest.
Muscle loss is a big issue, and is what causes many to avoid cutting altogether! Many foods and supplements have been found to help decrease muscle loss or thwart it completely. Another issue is metabolic "slow-down," which can occur after long periods of dieting.
Best Foods: What are the 20 best foods for cutting?
Tuna is a great source of lean protein, with very little fat and no carbs. Good source of omega-3 fatty acids. Tuna is also rich in selenium, magnesium, potassium, and the B vitamins niacin, B1, and B6.
2. Enova Oil
A great source of fat, especially while cutting. Increases the body's ability to burn fat, and may improve appetite control and energy. Has a nice light taste as well, and goes well with many foods.
Spinach is extremely high in Vitamin C, as well as Vitamin A, Vitamin E, and many antioxidants. Also high in folic acid and iron, spinach has been shown to be quite potent in the prevention of cancer. Spinach is also great to eat alongside your red meat.
Great source of Vitamin C, potassium, and fiber. Also high in folate, iron, and calcium. Grapefruit is one of the best fruits to use while cutting as it contains naringin, which is known to be helpful for fat-loss, and is also known to increase the body's ability to absorb Vitamin C.
Words Of Caution However: Grapefruit may interact with many different medications. It is recommended that if you are on any medications, that you check whether or not grapefruit will interact with the medication. This is because grapefruit juice can increase the absorption of many medications significantly.
5. Eggs/Egg Whites
Eggs are a complete protein source, and contain many vitamins and minerals including Vitamin A, B6, B12, riboflavin, folate, iron, phosphorus, and zinc. I recommend both whole eggs and egg whites, but you must remember to cook your egg whites if you are going to eat them alone. This is because raw egg whites contain avidin, which is very effective at binding biotin. This could lead to a deficiency if they are not cooked properly or taken along with the yolk.
6. Skim / Low-Fat Milk
Milk contains a good amount of high-quality protein, and also a moderate amount of carbs. It is a good idea to sip on skim milk between meals, as it is fairly anti-catabolic.
Milk is high in calcium, which may aid in fat-loss. Milk is rich in Vitamin D and K and also contains lactoferrin, which is a powerful anti-oxidant. The CLA in milk may also be useful in reducing body-fat and preventing certain types of cancer.
7. Non-Fat/Low-Fat Cottage Cheese
High in protein, and low in fat. Also a great source of calcium, cottage cheese is great to use while cutting. Cottage cheese is especially useful for eating before bed, as it will help prevent catabolism during the long night. It is a great natural source of glutamine.
Cottage cheese is much cheaper than casein as well, so if you don't mind the taste, then it is highly recommended that you go pick some up during your cutting phases!
Great source of Omega 3. Also a high-quality protein source, containing all essential amino acids. Rich in Vitamins A, D, B6, and B12.
Great for controlling appetite, and are fairly inexpensive. Also having a great source of fiber, beans are quite nutrient-dense. The carbohydrates in beans are quite low GI (glycemic-index) as well, which makes them slightly more suitable for a cutting diet.
High-quality source of carbohydrates, and contains a moderate amount of protein. Great for post-workout, especially while cutting, so that you may avoid simple sugars. Helps to keep you full, mostly due to its high fiber content. Oatmeal is also great for lowering cholesterol.
11. Olive Oil
Great source of healthy monounsaturated fats, and is also high in Omega 9 fatty acids. Contains powerful antioxidants as well. Make sure to get the "extra virgin" variety however, as it has more nutrients.
An excellent source of Omega-3s. Walnuts may also be helpful in lowering cholesterol. Also, walnuts are high in melatonin which can help with sleeping issues as well as protecting against cancer and heart disease. Walnuts are also known to be helpful for fat-loss.
"People following a moderate fat weight-loss diet, including peanuts and tree nuts, such as walnuts, were shown to improve weight-loss and keep weight off for a longer period of time than people following a traditional low fat diet." - International Journal of Obesity
13. Peanut/Almond Butter
A great source of healthy fats along with moderate protein. Also is quite good tasting. Also a great source of Magnesium and Vitamin E. Their nutritional profiles are quite similar. Peanut butter and almond butter are both quite beneficial during cutting, but really it is mostly based on taste preference.
Chicken is a great lean meat right alongside tuna. It is quite good tasting and works well with many different foods.
Ounce for ounce, broccoli has more Vitamin C than an orange, and as much calcium as a glass of milk. Broccoli is quite rich in Vitamin A. Also contains many powerful cancer-fighting properties. It is recommended that you do not microwave your broccoli however, as this kills off many of the powerful antioxidants.
Good source of fiber to keep you full, and high in Vitamin C. Also high in folic acid, potassium, and many antioxidants.
Asparagus is a great food to keep you full between meals. Good source of folic acid, fiber, Vitamin C, potassium, and beta-carotene.
Has many unique health benefits. High in tryptophan, folic acid, fiber, calcium, and many other vitamins and minerals. Has long been recognized for its blood pressure lowering benefits.
19. Sweet Potatoes
A great food for adding to your "carb meals" while cutting. Has been shown to lower insulin resistance, and help stabilize blood sugar levels. High in fiber, beta carotene, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, and potassium.
Has a powerful anti-oxidant effect, and is very helpful in boosting the immune system. Has been shown to be a powerful antibiotic. Great for lowering cholesterol and blood pressure.
Best Supplements: What are the 5 best supplements for cutting? Explain why.
A multivitamin should always be part of one's supplement arsenal. However, it is especially important while on a cutting diet. This is because a decreased caloric intake many times leads to less variety and/or quality food in meals, which means less vitamin and mineral intake through your food.
BCAAs are most important while cutting. During those long lifting sessions or cardio sessions, while in caloric deficit these are a must have! You should ideally take one serving before, during, and after your weight lifting session.
3. Whey Protein
A naturally complete protein, and rich source of BCAA's, whey protein is quite helpful while cutting. It is ideal to consume it post-workout during cutting just as you would during bulking. Just make sure to not use it for more than two of your meals as it has not been shown to be anti-catabolic over a long period of time. Mixing it with milk however would be helpful if consumed in place of a meal.
4. Fish Oil
Contains Omega-3 fatty acids. These have been shown to decrease body-fat while simultaneously increasing muscle mass.
5. Green Tea
A potent fat-loss supplement which also has powerful anti-oxidant properties. Green Tea is immensely helpful for overall health as well, as it has been shown to decrease blood pressure, lower blood sugar, and fight cancer.
Calories: How does one determine how many calories they should consume when cutting?
Generally, a good guideline for cutting is to decrease your calories to 11 times your bodyweight. For example, if you weigh 200 pounds, then you would consume 2,200 calories a day. 5-6 meals per day would be preferable. This may be altered due to your current body fat and/or body-type.
You should also shoot for 1.5 grams of protein per pound of body-weight. Therefore, the 200 pound man would consume 300 grams a day of protein. Carbohydrates should be both consumed in moderate amounts. A good idea to keep your metabolism running smooth, is a carb-up every three days. This should be roughly 200 grams of carbs, preferably complex, such as oatmeal or sweet potatoes.